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Two Colusa sisters donate book to honor fallen soldier
Two Colusa sisters have guaranteed that Rueben "Boy" Lopez will be remembered forever at Birchfield Primary School in Colusa.
Jessica Hickel, a fourth-grader, and Holley, a second-grader, donated the book "America the Beautiful" in memory of Lopez, who died Aug. 11 while serving in the Army in Afghanistan.
Lopez, who was 27, grew up in Williams.
His mother, Gloria Estrada, attended a ceremony at the school library Tuesday, telling the girls their donation was "special."
Estrada showed the Hickel girls photos of her son and his dog tags, which she wears now.
"I carry these close to my heart all the time," she said.
Estrada was given the banners that the school displayed as the motorcade escorting Lopez's body from Beale Air Force Base came through Colusa to Williams and then back to Colusa for the funeral and burial.
"No one knows what that looked like," Estrada told the gathering.
"There were people down at the end of Fremont Street, and as we got closer to the school, to see all those precious, innocent children."
She said the moment was very dear for her and for Lopez's four sisters as well.
The book is written by Katherine Lee Bates, and illustrated by Chris Gall.
"It is actually the song 'America the Beautiful,' but has historical events of our country and national monuments throughout the book," said April Kraft, who is the school librarian.
Kraft also was Lopez's preschool teacher.
"We usually get 20 books a year donated, usually in memory of someone, or in honor of someone's birthday," Kraft said.
"But this is particularly nice, because whenever someone picks it up, it will remind them of 'Boy,' and our country and God, who was important in his life."
Jessica Hickel said the book was selected because Lopez "was trying to protect our country."